Bicycles have a wide range of functions and roles in West Africa. They have vital functions for everyday necessities, but they also constitute prestige objects. The appreciation of bicycles in Africa started very early, almost simultaneously with their diffusion as consumer goods in Europe. However, the adoption of bicycles followed a specific pathway, which is explained in this article within the conceptual framework of appropriation. Cultural appropriation highlights the significant modifications of bicycles in Africa and the abandonment of some functions like braking. In spite of the technical simplifications, modified bicycles are perceived as having higher value, by virtue of their fitness for the tough roads and their increased reliability. Appropriation results in a specific “Africanized“ bicycle, which makes possible a prolonged usage. This essay argues that the “Africanized“ bicycle constitutes a model of sustainability in matters of transport, one which is not sufficiently recognized in current debates about sustainable innovations.
The Appropriation of Bicycles in West Africa
Pragmatic Approaches to Sustainability
Hans Peter Hahn
What Is Africa to Me Now?
The Politics of Unhappy Returns
Accounts of African American journeys to Africa have long functioned as ways to comment on social, psychological, and political conditions at home. This article surveys a number of such works written since the advent of the Civil Rights Movement, and notes that the trend continues, albeit with different emphases. For Maya Angelou in All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986) and Saidiya Hartman in Lose Your Mother: A Journey along the Atlantic Slave Route (2007), the journey leads to a renewed call for solidarity at home and in the world. Conversely, some journalists such as Howard French provide insightful and moving commentary on a continent all too easily subsumed in a discourse of despair; still others, like Keith Richburg, use Africa as a platform for a radically conservative approach to the politics of the global community.
Critiquing Sub-Saharan Pan-Africanism through an Appraisal of Postcolonial African Modernity
Lawrence Ogbo Ugwuanyi
Existing literature on pan-Africanism often focuses on re-enforcing the ideology of pan-Africanism without much devotion to critiquing, justifying or purifying the ideology. Two positions can be applied to explain this. The first is that
Decolonizing the African Studies Centre
Decolonizations of African Studies Colonial legacies are not hard to find in African Studies in the UK today, from the annual Lugard Lecture to the Royal African Society, from Rhodes’ refusal to fall at Oxford, to the Smuts Memorial Trust at
Science and Charity
Rival Catholic Visions for Humanitarian Practice at the End of Empire
This paper explores the conflict between local expressions of Christian charity and new theories of scientific humanitarianism in the final years of French rule in Africa. Compassionate phenomena inspired by Catholic social organizing had transformed everyday life throughout French Cameroon's cities and villages in the interwar and postwar years, and yet, in 1950, poverty, crime, poor public health, and social tensions remained prevalent. Seeking a more deeply transformative approach to social rehabilitation, ecclesiastical leaders in the Catholic Church in Europe and French foreign missionary societies in Africa partnered with international medical and scientific organizations to invigorate charity with technical expertise. Revised ethics and practices departed sharply from preexisting models of collective social action, as European leaders lacked confidence in the intentions as well as the outcomes of African-led religious organizing. European humanitarian approaches conceived after World War II demanded a new focus on particular African subjects, namely the child and the family, which alienated indigenous Christian principals, who, along with large and diverse African Christian communities, had previously determined the direction of Catholic social action on the continent.
Pan-African Linguistic and Cultural Unity
A Basis For pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance
One of the greatest sons of Europe, historian Basil Davidson (1970: 11 ), once remarked that whenever anything remarkable or inexplicable turned up in Africa ‘a whole galaxy of non-African (or at any rate non-black)’ peoples were dragged in
Reframing African Girlhood
This Special Issue on African Girlhoods is long overdue for many reasons, not least of which is its recognition, as guest editors Marla L. Jaksch, Catherine Cymone Fourshey, and Relebohile Moletsane point out, of the somewhat vexed history of the
Pan-Africanism and Epistemologies of the South
This article is a theoretical invitation to revisit the idea of pan-Africanism and to think differently about Africa beyond the discourse of afro-pessimism. It focuses on the epistemic question and argues for the need to promote an alternative
“Africa, Are We There Yet?” Taking African Mobilities Seriously—Concluding Remarks
The articles in this special section highlight the need to adopt “an African-focused perspective” to understand African experiences of mobility. 1 The impetus for an African-focused perspective that places African experiences at the center
Austerity in Africa
Audit cultures and the weakening of public sector health systems
imposed across Africa since the 1980s and managed by the IMF and the World Bank ( Kentikelenis et al. 2015 ; Pfeiffer and Chapman 2010 ; Prince and Marsland 2013 ; Turshen 1999 ). As structural adjustment programs sharply reduced public spending on